Hartley commits to Saints
Hooker Dylan Hartley has signed a new deal with Northampton Saints to keep him at Franklin's Gardens for the foreseeable future.
By Rachel Griffiths
Last Updated: 23/02/10 10:58am
England hooker Dylan Hartley has penned a new deal with Northampton Saints to keep him at Franklin's Gardens for the foreseeable future.
The new contract is the 23-year-old's third at the Saints, where he is now in his fifth season.
Hartley is one of Northampton's longest-serving players despite his young age, and the Heineken Cup trip to Treviso last December saw him make his 100th appearance in black, green and gold.
The hooker made his full international debut against the Pacific Islanders in 2008 and has been involved in every England match-day squad since, notching up 16 caps.
Hartley, who was appointed captain of the Saints for the 2009-10 season, making him the youngest skipper in the Guinness Premiership, admits he had no intention of signing anywhere else.
"Captaining this club makes me prouder than I can possibly explain so there was never any danger of me not re-signing," said Hartley.
"Saints have supported me, stood by me, helped me to grow up and Jim and Dorian very publicly put a huge amount of faith in me by making me the captain of the club and I want to repay that trust and support.
"It's also incredibly important for my development that I spend the next few years playing for a serious rugby-town team run by top coaches, alongside fantastic players, challenging for domestic silverware and playing regular Heineken Cup rugby and this season especially Saints are ticking all of those boxes and more.
"This is a really exciting place to be right now. The club's on the verge of very big things and I think my role going forwards is pretty clear - keep learning, keep improving, keep performing, keep winning, keep doing my best to lead by example and to keep rewarding the faith shown in me by my coaches."
Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder believes Hartley has adapted well to his role as captain and insists the hooker has even more to offer.
"Dylan has concentrated hard on all aspects of his game over the past few years and has developed very well as a player," said Mallinder.
"But although he has plenty of experience at club and international level he is still in the early years of his career and has a lot more time to get better.
"He has been a good captain for the team this year. He leads by example, on and off the field, and has taken to the role very well. I am delighted that he is staying with us."